HOSPITAL chiefs and a parking firm have come under fire after it was discovered they don’t have planning permission to install automatic number plate recognition cameras at Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospital.

In December, the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust announced ParkingEye Ltd would be installing ANPR systems and the Buckshaw Village-based firm would take on issuing fixed penalty notices to people who did not pay to park.

However, two months after the controversial technology was installed, the Citizen can reveal that ParkingEye only submitted an application for retrospective planning approval on February 22.

Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “It is a disgusting attitude to take to the planning process.

“Why have they not sought planing permission before installing them like everyone else would do?

“It would have given people theright to oppose it but the Trust took for granted the staff, patients and the general public.

“It seems they are closing the door to debate by just going ahead and installing them without permission. This is a hospital trust that thinks it can do whatever they want.”

There has been controversy since the scheme was announced in December, with patients requiring dialysis treatment or other long-term care, and their families, told they would have to pay a discounted concessionary rate of £2.50 per day to park.

Hospital chiefs reversed that decision earlier this year.

However since then patients have had issues with the machines not working.

Helen Johnson, whose husband David receives dialysis at Chorley Hospital, is angry about the ‘underhand’ tactics with the scheme.

She said: “I have had extensions to my house and I have had to get it approved by planners before I could start the work. Also I read about someone having to knock down (their work) because it was not approved.

“But they have already put this parking system in before getting approval. How can the planning officers now refuse to grant permission when it is already operational?

“I think it is unfair for them to put seek planning permission in eight or nine weeks after it was installed.

“The machines and the system is still not working.

“This latest thing is turning the hospital and the parking firm into a laughing stock.”

Jenny Hurley, who is part of the campaign group Protect Chorley and South Ribble Hospital from Cuts and Privatisation, said: “It shows that we should not be using cheap outsourcing to cut costs. This is just bully boy tactics and they have shown contempt for the democratic planning system.”

The Trust say it is the supplier’s responsibility to get planning permission.

A ParkingEye spokesperson said: “Planning permission for all our equipment at Chorley and South Ribble District Hospital has been submitted to the council. It is common practice for planning permission to be applied retrospectively for sites such as this.

“ParkingEye is a member of the British Parking Association and operates an audited appeals process. Motorists are encouraged to appeal if they feel there are genuine mitigating circumstances.”